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Man pleads guilty for the brutal murder of Derek Runnion

YUMA, Ariz. (KYMA, KECY) - The man accused of murdering Derek Runnion plead guilty for his crime Tuesday morning.

Derek Runnion's father says this brings him some closure, even though it will never bring him home.

31-year-old Derek Runnion was last seen on March 24, 2021.

Runnion's father said he went out to get his car fixed on a Wednesday evening and never came home.

When Friday rolled around and there was still no sign of Derek, they filed a police report with the Yuma Police Department.

They started putting up flyers hoping that he'll come home.

On April 1, his remains were found.

Now Erick Chavez will pay the price, after pleading guilty to second-degree murder charges.

Michael Runnion, Derek's dad, doesn't think the sentence is adequate.

Court documents explained Erick Chavez led investigators to a drainage tunnel in Winterhaven where Derek's body was found brutally murdered and even burned.

Chavez admitted to being there during the time of the murder.

New details came from the document where Chavez says he assisted, a friend, Jonissa Jones, in the murder because the friend threatened his family.

Back in May, Jonissa Jones was sentenced to 25 years to life, after pleading guilty to first-degree murder charges.

Chavez told investigators the friend wanted to kill Derek because he was, 'Gay as [expletive]'

The document says Chavez and Derek met through a gay dating app.

We now know Jones and Chavez were in a relationship, according to court documents.

Jones said in her initial interrogation she knew Chavez was bisexual and was okay with it as long as he didn't cheat on her.

On the day of the murder, warranted Facebook messages between Chavez and Jones show a scheme to kill with one message planning for Chavez to shoot Derek, and if he screams for Jones to stab him. 

Derek's body was found with stab wounds to the back and neck along with a gunshot wound: a brutal way to die, but Derek's family says his spirit still lives on.

Chavez will be sentenced for his crime next month.

Article Topic Follows: Crime

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Samantha Byrd

Samantha Byrd joined the KYMA team in February 2022 and is the morning anchor/producer for News 11 and Fox 9.

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